Posted October 2004
CPlease Print Out, Copy & Post C
Q. Will the military draft return?
A. We donít know the future. What we do know is that the current US. military is seriously overstretched, with no relief in sight. We also know that the military is trying various "quick fixes" to close the gaps, and they donít seem to be working. (For more on this, go to the Quaker House website: www.quakerhouse.org/draft-return.htm) Many military professionals have also raised alarms about how over-stretched the "volunteer" US military now is, and how this might point to the draftís return. Two such sources are: www.optruth.org/ or a new report from The Century Foundation -- www.tcf.org)
Q. If the Draft returns, how can we prepare?
A. We are often asked what can be done now to protect you or your children from being selected in the event of a draft.
Because there is no draft today, no one can say exactly what the rules and procedures would be. However, it seems safe to assume that a future draft would not call up persons who are currently unqualified or unacceptable for military service.
So what a person can do now is to create a file documenting any problems or restrictions, so if the draft returns they would have necessary paperwork ready and complete on short notice.
Q. What about medical/health conditions?
A. Many medical conditions will keep people out of the military. Research them online as Standards of Medical Fitness. Collect and copy all medical files, and get a thorough physical exam with special attention to any problems that could interfere with service. Make sure previously unexplored aches, pains, and injuries, are examined and noted.
Keep a history of psychological problems or treatments and medications. Note periods of stress such as difficult times in school, parental divorce, or death of a loved one. Seeking counseling for any current problems can create a paper trail where one might not otherwise exist.
Q. What if Iím gay, lesbian or bisexual?
A. The military currently excludes open gays. Discuss any homosexual or bisexual orientation with someone you have confidence in, yet who could still credibly attest to your orientation if necessary. For instance, a trusted pastor would likely be more credible than a teenage best friend.
Q. What about Drug Use/Criminal records?
A. We do not encourage either illegal drug use or lawbreaking. But if you have a history of either, they have kept many people out of the military. Here too, having complete records will be important.
Q. What if I want to be a Conscientious Objector (CO)?
A. Today, the only formal CO regulations are for persons already in the military. The key sections of these military regulations demand that CO claimants not only explain their pacifist beliefs, but also document a track record of acting on them. As the Bible says: "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." (James 1:22)
Q. How can I establish a CO "track record"?
A. Again, there are no formal regulations for future CO claims. But our advice is to document carefully your religious or philosophical objections to war and violence, and your actions for peace. Speak with a sympathetic pastor or mentor, one who could vouch for you later, about your antiwar beliefs. Express them in letters to the editor or other forms of dated publication. Register them with your meeting or church, or a national CO registry like the Center for Conscience and War in Washington DC (www. nisbco.org). Collect news articles, flyers, or photos from marches, vigils or prayer services attended, and other related documents.
As sources to support CO claims, medical professionals, public officials, religious leaders, school guidance counselors, and current and former military servicemembers (the higher ranking the better) generally have more credibility. Non-family members are considered less biased. Parents and family can still be good sources, but better to include statements by these others when possible.
Q. What if I donít want to register with Selective Service?
A. There are automatic federal and state penalties for declining to register (Info at: www.sss.gov ). Registration is also automatic in many states (32 at last count), when you get a driverís license. As this shows, in todayís no-privacy electronic society, the Selective Service could likely find almost anyone if it went looking.
Q. If I do register, can I claim CO status then?
A. Not in the legal sense. There is no line on the SSS registration form to state a CO claim. But here is something a young man can do.
1. Write a phrase like, I AM A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR on blank spaces on the registration form, in clear block letters.
2. Make copies of the form, then mail one copy to yourself, and another to someone who has agreed to receive it.
3. Do not open the envelopes with your copies when they arrive. Keep them with your file of CO-related documents.
4. If the draft returns, this copy, and your file, should help substantiate your CO claim. (But remember: there are no guarantees!)
Q. How can I keep up with bills to restart the draft?
A. Beware of vague rumors spread on the internet! The Friends Committee on National Legislation (www.fcnl.org) will track such proposals carefully and accurately.
Ė Steve Woolford & Chuck Fager